CDE: Student Suspensions, Expulsions Decline for Fifth Consecutive Year

November 13, 2017

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on November 1 that the number of students suspended and expelled in California public schools has declined for the fifth year in a row, showing that efforts by educators to improve attendance by using more engaging instruction and effective discipline are making significant progress.

From the 2011–12 school year to 2016–17, suspensions declined by a remarkable 46 percent, meaning there were 327,857 fewer suspensions in 2016–17 than in 2011–12. (See Table 1).

Similarly, expulsions decreased by 42 percent, dropping from about 9,800 to 5,700, a difference of about 4,100 students. (See Table 3).

The figures come from data collected by the California Department of Education (CDE) and are the most detailed and comprehensive statistics in the nation...

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California Students Lose 840,656 Days of Instruction Due to Suspensions, According to UCLA Research Study

October 30, 2017

A research study released on October 23 shows that the overuse of suspensions in California schools resulted in an estimated 840,656 days of lost instruction during the 2014-2015 academic year, or approximately 13 days for every 100 students enrolled. The is the first California study to quantify days of missed instruction due to suspension, rather than suspension rates.

The report, “Lost Instruction: The Disparate Impact of the School Discipline Gap in California,” estimates instructional days lost for each school district in the state and for California as a whole. Data on the number of days lost for every school district in California is available here. The report was written by Daniel J. Losen, director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at UCLA’s Civil Rights Project, and Dr. Amir Whitaker, a researcher at the Center. Both Losen and Whitaker have experience as educators and civil rights lawyers...

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Commentary: End the High-Stakes Testing Sham

(Editor’s note: The following opinion piece was published by U.S. News & World Report on September 15.)


By Daniel Koretz, Opinion Contributor

Fall is here, and kids are back in school. If you are a parent, you know what this means: testing, testing and more testing. Not just end-of-the-year tests used for accountability, but tests all year long to "prepare" for them. And time spent taking tests is just the tip of the iceberg: In many schools, preparation for these tests eats up far more time than testing does. In fact, in some schools, test prep is the curriculum.

This has been the way American schools have been run for years. We’ve been promised that this boring and stressful regimen will improve schools, lead kids to learn more and close the gap between low-achieving and high-achieving students.

It hasn’t. This approach has been a failure. It has produced only limited improvements, and these are far outweighed by the damage it has done...

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New CAASPP Test Results Show Little Change in Academic Performance

October 2, 2017

On September 27, the California Department of Education released the 2017 scores for the online California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests in English language arts and mathematics remained steady and retained the strong gains students made in 2016.

This is the third year of the computer-based tests, which use California’s challenging academic standards and ask students to write clearly, think critically, and solve complex problems, just as they will need to do in college and 21st century careers.

Torlakson said he was pleased that students maintained the progress they have made since the initial year of testing and urged students, teachers, and parents to continue to aim high...

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Ed Trust–West, CTA Respond to CAASPP Test Results

October 2, 2017

Ryan J. Smith, Executive Director of The Education Trust–West, an advocacy group based in Oakland, said:

"The California Department of Education has released new state test results, providing a snapshot of how schools and districts are doing. This marked the third year of the Smarter Balanced assessments and the seventh year since the state adopted the Common Core standards. Across the board, improvement has slowed – in some places to a trickle. Fewer than half of all students met standards in English language arts – and in fifth grade English language arts, scores even declined. Math scores show minimal improvement over last year, but progress has slowed and achievement gaps across ethnic groups persist. Three-fourths of Latino students are not meeting standards in math, and more than two-thirds of African American students are not meeting standards in ELA or math. Even more troublingly, gaps for English learners appear to be widening in both math and English language arts...

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Collaboration Offers Path to Keeping Low-Income Students and Students of Color in STEM Classes

September 18, 2017

Nationally, only about 40 percent of students who enter college intending to major in STEM end up graduating with a STEM degree. Students of color, those from low-income backgrounds, and those who are first-generation college students complete degrees at even lower rates, despite their increasing representation in higher education.

To target these challenges, a project at California State University had campuses redesign introductory math and science courses and implement a summer bridge program and a first-year experience, tying all three interventions together to create a seamless experience for students.

Campuses that successfully collaborated and integrated the interventions saw improvements in STEM retention and overall retention, as well as improvements in affective outcomes such as engagement and sense of belonging, according to a new study from USC Rossier...

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September Birthday May Mean Edge in School

By Julie Deardorff, Northwestern University - Rep: September 18, 2017

Children who start school at an older age do better than their younger classmates, an advantage that extends through college, according to a new working paper co-authored by Northwestern University economist David Figlio, National Public Radio (NPR) reported.

“Many parents already delay enrolling their children in school, believing they’ll do better if they’re a bit older,” Figlio told NPR reporter John Ydstie. “It’s sort of ‘academic redshirting,’” he said, referring to recruits in college athletics who are held out of games for a year.

Using Florida birth and education data, researchers compared the performance of August- and September-born children in the same families...

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California K-12 Curriculum Becomes More Historically Accurate with Help from UC Davis

By Karen Nikos-Rose, UC Davis - Rep: September 5, 2017

For generations, it was a rite of passage for 9-year-olds from San Diego to Eureka to craft popsicle-stick and sugar-cube models of a specific California mission. But, the fourth-grade “mission project” is disappearing from many classrooms, as the curriculum that students learn moves into a more accurate history reflecting all cultures.

UC Davis and the California History-Social Science Framework

Nancy McTygue, executive director of the California History-Social Science Project, co-chaired the Instructional Quality Commission’s History-Social Science committee with former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig. They were joined by Beth Slutsky and Shennan Hutton, who both serve as CHSSP coordinators, in writing the original framework. They edited drafts from a team of writers across the state, and responded to thousands of individual public comments on the draft. The framework was adopted in 2016...

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Transforming High School Through Self-Directed Learning

By Kerry McDonald, Education Next - Rep: September 5, 2017

Running an innovative, technology-inspired after school program for city kids near Boston wasn’t enough for Alec Resnick. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate and entrepreneur knew that to make a sustained impact in the learning lives of young people he needed more connection than a few hours each week. His goal was simple: blur the lines between schooling and learning by putting young people in charge of their education, with facilitators and resources available to guide and assist. In 2016, he and his team won a grant to do just that.

Resnick’s non-profit, sprout & co., in collaboration with the city of Somerville, Massachusetts, won a $10 million cash grant from XQ Super School Project, an organization focused on transforming high school education, whose board of directors is led by Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of the late Steve Jobs. The plan was for Resnick and his team, with encouragement from local mayor, Joseph Curtatone, to create a new public (non-charter) high school in this city just outside of Boston...

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CDE Postpones Release of CAASPP Statewide Test Results

September 5, 2017

The California Department of Education (CDE) abruptly announced on August 25 that the release of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) test results for 2017 – originally scheduled for August 29 – would be postponed, so the CDE could “address a recently identified data issue.”

The problem, according to some news reports, involves special education students whose test scores were identified with a different district than the district in which they had taken the test. The glitch was spotted when the CDE sent the test results to districts (as a “preview period” to prepare for the public release of the test results), and districts started calling the CDE with questions and concerns.

A rescheduled release date – not yet identified, but probably during the first two weeks of September – is expected to be announced soon.

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